~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Commissioned! (part 4), by clicking here.
A survey of an entire, unnamed denomination was done in the early 90’s in which 99% of those surveyed said the same thing: that they believed that it was the job of EVERY Christian to bring the gospel to a lost world. Nevertheless, another statistic reports that 95% of believers have never led anyone to the Lord. Consider this: 99% of believers say preaching the gospel to a lost world is the job of every Christian, but only 5% have done it successfully. According to these two pieces of data, there are 94% of Christians that believe something and don’t do it. In other words, 6 out of 100 believers are acting according to their belief concerning witnessing. Why is there such a discrepancy between what believers believe and what they do?
In John 7:7, Jesus Himself said “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” The world actually hates Jesus. Why does the world hate Jesus? John 3:19-20 makes it perfectly clear “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” The world is against God because they want to live sinfully. Jesus said the world hates Him and then in John 17, while praying to the Father for believers (us), Jesus says “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Jesus said that the world is going to hate us because we have His word in us!
But, our battle is not against flesh and blood. Not at all! There is nothing in us that is even remotely upset at them because WE WERE THEM! Our battle is against principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this age, and they are trying their best to play a game of “hide the truth.” Remember the messengers who the Master sent to the vineyard? They got progressively beat until the Son was sent who they decided to kill. Why? They want to hide the truth and do their own thing! They are just deceived! There is the prince of the power of the air and he is trying to cover the world with darkness so that people can be deceived, throw their big party, and not want to hear the light.
This is why there is such a discrepancy between what Christians believe about the Great Commission and what they do. We don’t realize that there is actually opposition to DOING the Great Commission. The is exponentially more opposition to DOING than there is to believing the Great Commission. The enemy just wants you to nod your head during church service, but he doesn’t want you to move your feet on the pavement of the street. The darkness shall cover the earth.” (Isa. 60:2) But that darkness will not cover God’s people! We are to be lamps on stands, salt on food, and a bright shinning light! Arise and shine for your light has come!
In Jn. 12:42-43 we read “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Many believers believe, but never confess. There’s a difference.
Imagine you have a tea kettle, filled with water and you put it on the stove. Boiling happens when the vapor pressure of the water becomes greater than the atmospheric pressure around it. At that point, the water starts to boil over and the steam goes bursting out of the tea kettle which is now screaming!
Many believers believe, but never confess. Why? We need to realize that there is actually atmospheric, spiritual pressure over the earth. He is called the prince of the power of the air. That pressure is greater in some places than in others. The testimony of Jesus, your confession of Christ (in word and in power) will issue forth out of you when your internal pressure for Christ is greater than the atmospheric pressure against Him! This is why you feel bold for Christ in certain circumstances, but not others. For instance, if you come to a church where all the members believe in Jesus, and they are here to praise God and hear the Word of God, the atmospheric pressure against Christ in that environment is VERY low! It doesn’t take a lot of internal pressure for Christ for you to get to the point that you are praising God in this environment!
However, the “atmospheric pressure” is possibly higher in your place of work than at church. Jesus stood out preaching the Kingdom in the face of tremendous spiritual opposition! Todd White recently was filmed ministering to an angry Roman mob. Why is Todd White able to do that? You may think “if only I could have boldness like that!” Boldness is not a personality trait. This is what you have to get! Any font can be made bold. Likewise, every believer can be made bold. That Roman mob environment would have been very high atmospheric pressure, but Todd White still “boiled over” for Jesus. Why? His passion for Jesus was greater than the atmospheric pressure that was set against Him proclaiming the name of Christ. His internal passion, the “boiling of the water molecules” in his heart was greater than atmospheric pressure against the confession of Christ (in word and deed).
You may notice that you are comfortable sharing Christ at church, or at home, or at house church, but you are not comfortable at the store. That’s where your vapor pressure is at. It’s not that you are not bold; you just need more internal vapor pressure!
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) We absolutely want to get theology right, but theology cannot replace passion. You can know everything, but if you are not passionate for Jesus, you will do nothing. Think about a marriage. Passion is so important in a marriage. A marriage is not just principle. Passionate love will cause you to do what principle will never motivate you too. Believing is not enough; we must believe to the point of action!
In Luke 11:8 we see Jesus’ commentary about getting loaves of bread at midnight. “I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” You can get from boldness with God, some things that you do not yet have with Him by friendship. There are some people that have a beautiful relationship with God in their prayer closet, but do not have great faith – do not have boldness. There are other believer that might make your cringe sometimes with what they say or do or how they do it, but they have great faith and they see great results. We need to take a lesson from those of great faith! We tend to think theology, theology, theology. But why were Peter and John so bold for the gospel? 5,000 saved! It wasn’t because of their great training in the Word; it was because they had been with Jesus! They had a passion for Jesus! Note that when Peter preached to the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost and to the 5,000 at Solomon’s Portico he still was not sure if Gentiles were allowed to receive salvation and if all Christians needed to be physically circumcised! Think of it!
We need to have a value for boldness. We need to have a value for acting! We’ve been studying the Great Commission, but at the end of the day, are you going to do it?!? 99%. 5%. Who’s going to act?No one at Agathos Church has a limiting factor (as it relates to the Great Commission) of knowledge of the Word. We have to step out; we have to do the work! Blessed are those who DO the Word!
Now, boldness is not brashness. Boldness is when you stand out from your surroundings. Think of bold letters. They stand out from their surroundings. Boldness is when you boil over – when you have more love for Jesus effervescing out of your heart than there is atmospheric pressure pushing against it.
Every font can be made bold and so can every believer! So, how can you increase your boldness? The first way is through being with Jesus in prayer. Peter and John were so bold because they had been with Jesus! Edwin Louis Cole said “prayer in private results in boldness in public.” When you spend time in the presence of God, one of things He does is assure you of your identity in Him. Just that fact that you are before Him and He is talking with you assures you of your identity as a son or daughter of God -that you are righteous before Him. As you increasingly realize how righteous you are before Him, the Proverb becomes true of you that the “righteous are as bold as a lion!” When you don’t think that you are righteous, you flee even though no one is pursuing, but when you know that you are righteous, you are as bold as a lion! Jesus said in Jn. 15:27 ““And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me.”
The second way you can increase you “vapor pressure” for boldness is to meditate on the Word of God. DL Moody said “Find a man meditating on the Word of God … you will find a man who is bold and successful.” In John 14:24 and 15:9-10 we see a positive feedback loop about being in the Word. We see that you have to actually have love for Jesus in order to keep His word. But, when you keep His word, it gives you love for Jesus! So how do you get started in that positive feedback loop?
The answer is that you get in the Word and it will give you more love for Jesus, which will make it easier to be in the Word … There is such a thing as “Word debt.” Getting out of “Word debt” is just like getting out of financial debt. You need to stop spending all of your time. When you need to get out of financial debt, you stop spending all of your money and you try to find $10 / month with which you can start paying down your debt. That’s what you need to do with the Word! If you are in Word debt on any level, you need to cut something out. Find 10 or 20 minutes and get in the Word for that much. God is going to then give you divine ideas that make you day go better and you are going to have more time. Then reinvest that time in the Word!
In addition to being able to increase our “vapor pressure” for boldness, we can also decrease the atmospheric pressure. Of course, you can pray to decrease the darkness of an environment. For instance, if you are going to go witness at a mall, you can command any hindering spirits to be removed from that atmosphere, but even after you pray, there is still going to be some amount of atmospheric pressure. That’s fine, simply don’t emphasize that in your thinking, which would magnify the darkness in your own mind. Just let the love of God flow right out of you!